Chicago Blackhawks: How Stanley Cup Game 5 Was Won

By Colin Likas
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Chicago’s sound defensive effort. Speaking of the defense, this win was all about it. And though that includes the forwards as well, it starts with the actual defensemen, namely the top four. Duncan Keith hasn’t had as much success pushing offensive play in this series like he did against Anaheim, but he was on the ice for nearly 30 minutes Saturday and hardly showed it, notching four blocked shots and tying for the team lead with 10 defensive zone starts. Niklas Hjalmarsson had one of his best games in recent memory, playing Keith minutes (28:19 to Keith’s 29:23), blocking seven shots and also starting 11 shifts in the defensive zone. Hjalmarsson is often the unsung warrior-hero for the ’Hawks, and he had a huge role in keeping the Bolts off the scoreboard most of the night.

Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya handled their assignments with Kimmo Timonen and Trevor Van Riemsdyk well, and the latter two were not overly noticeable, which is probably OK at this stage and considering their minutes. The two big things from all six of these guys in Game 5 were general success clearing pucks away from Crow and much cleaner passes to help the ’Hawks clear the defensive zone. Both of these helped the ’Hawks start offensive possessions and killed several of Tampa’s tries.

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  • The ’Hawks forwards also had a nice night defensively, using some of Tampa’s own medicine against it with a nice forecheck and breaking up some Bolts’ offensive drives — and attempts to stop Chicago’s offensive possessions — with strong backchecking. Does Sharp’s goal happen if he’s not tight on Hedman, causing the defenseman to make a quick decision on playing the puck that ultimately led him and Bishop to a collision course? That play could have resulted in a ’Hawks goal with Sharp stripping Hedman of the puck and simply firing it past Bishop — the Tampa goaltender just made things a lot easier by leaving the net. And does Antoine Vermette’s game-winning goal happen without Teuvo Teravainen tying up a Tampa defenseman’s stick from right behind the play? Maybe, but maybe not. When we talk about strong defense from the ’Hawks, the conversation usually begins and ends with the actual defensemen. But the efforts of the forwards in this game, and throughout the series, shouldn’t be overlooked, as they are a noticeable part of the ’Hawks leading the Finals 3-2.